It’s autumn. For some, that means pumpkin spice, but for those in the know, it means something far tastier. Fall is when American whiskey distilleries roll out their rare blends. Today, Buffalo Trace Distillery kicked it all off, unveiling their 2019 Antique Collection.
Ten years old, the BTAC, as its known among collectors, features limited offerings from their portfolio including George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Thomas H. Handy, Eagle Rare, and Sazerac.
The bottle are retail distributed and list for $99. Of course, the cult following means that are nearly impossible to find. In the past, liquor shops have sold the bottles via raffle—or immense markup. Speaking of markups, expect these offerings to appear the secondary markets at an inflated price shortly.
If you plan to hunt for the bottles in stores, release is slated for late September/early October.
Given as we were not sent samples (but feel free), we don’t know too much about the taste of these offerings. So, feel free to check out the official descriptions from Buffalo Trace below.
George T. Stagg
The proverbial powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg, comes in at a lower 116.9 proof this year. This is the lowest proof in this whiskey’s history. Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley cites barrels located on the lower warehouse floors as the reason. “Many of the barrels for this year’s Stagg composite were taken from the first floor of the warehouse. The first floor is cooler with higher humidity levels, therefore the alcohol evaporates faster than the water.” The taste, however, is still what Stagg fans can expect, vanilla and toasted oak with a floral undertone, followed by a long finish of cherries, coffee and black pepper.
Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon have won many top awards, including last year’s release capturing the Chairman’s Trophy at the Ultimate Spirits Competition. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2004. Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses C, H, I, K, and Q. The evaporation loss for this year’s batch was 56%, a bit higher than last year’s release.
William Larue Weller
The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. Previous editions of this wheater have won many accolades, including receiving 5 Stars – Highest recommendation by F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal. The 2019 offering was distilled in the winter of 2007 and aged in Warehouse I. This bourbon registers in at 128 proof. The bold flavors include toasted vanilla and coffee.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye
Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. Last year’s release earned a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2013; aged in warehouses K, M, and N, and weighs in at 125.7 proof. The flavor profile includes creamy butterscotch and vanilla.
Eagle Rare 17 Year Old
Last year’s release went back to Eagle Rare’s roots with a proof change from the previous 90 proof back to 101 proof, in tribute to the original strength used when the brand was launched in 1974. The proof remains at 101 this year and will continue forward. The 2018 edition was awarded 92 points at the Ultimate Spirits Competition. This year’s release was distilled in the Spring of 2002 and has been spending its time aging on the first floor of Warehouse P. This bourbon tastes of cocoa, caramel, and oak.
Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old
The previous edition of Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named “Best Rye Whiskey Aged 11 Years and Over” by “Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.” This 2019 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of vanilla and maple syrup, with a finish of black pepper and spearmint. The barrels for this whiskey were filled in the spring of 2001 and it rested on the second floor of Warehouses K and L.